A keen wind blew across Salisbury Plain but it remained dry for the Combined Services point to point on going described by several riders as perfect. The highlight of the meeting was the Fujitsu Coronation Gold Cup won in impressive style by Chameron trained by Rose Loxton and other notable achievements was a training double for Shropshire trainer Philip Rowley, a real turn up in the Ladies Conditions race, a masterful ride by Will Biddick in the Restricted race and a welcome winner for Michael Kehoe in the final race of the day.
The highlight of the Larkhill season, the Coronation Gold Cup, attracted a quality field of seven runners and all were still in contention as they jumped the fourteenth fence. Pauls Hill ridden by James King had made much of the running and was still in front approaching the second last but he made a mistake and handed the advantage to Chameron ridden by Angus Cheleda who had been tracking him. Angus asked his mount to quicken and the response was instantaneous and he soon drew away from his field to record a ten length victory. Greeting their winner joint owners John Bolton and Paul Nicholls (along with the absent Harry Cobden) thoughts were being made for season concluding targets with Hunter Chases on the agenda. In the meantime John Bolton was looking forward to having the Coronation Gold Cup on his mantelpiece in Glastonbury.
The Ladies Conditions race looked a tailor made race for Captain Buck's who had been narrowly beaten by Wick Green at the beginning of January and with Wick Green franking the form at Horseheath on Saturday this looked a formality. However although Captain Buck's ridden by Natalie Parker edged ahead after the second last his sole rival Faraway Star ridden by Paige Topley had other ideas. Taking the inner course the mare kept finding more for her rider and was level again at the last. Duelling together on the run in Faraway Star prevailed from her rival by a head giving her owner/trainer Tracy Williams a welcome winner. Explaining that this season she had changed her bedding to shavings from straw and this has been a factor to her improved well- being. Paige, riding her third career victory, works for Ben Pauling and had rung Tracy last week for the ride on the mare at Badbury Rings but the partnership only lasted five fences. Loyally Tracy offered Paige the ride again today and this time there was a very happy outcome.
Philip Rowley's training double began with the Novice Rider Conditions Races when Ballykan beat his four rivals by fifteen lengths. Ridden by Ben Bromley, 17, the son of owner Anthony Bromley he had won six races for Nigel Twiston-Davies and had already run well in his previous two point to points but this time he was too good and had little trouble in beating Heaven Scent ridden by Amber Jackson-Fennell. Ben who works for Philip was securing his fifth career win and is likely to be remaining in the amateur ranks for the time being.
Philip's second winner came courtesy of My Bobby Dazzler in the Maiden Conditions race over two and a half miles when ridden by Alex Edwards. Ignoring the strong pace set by the favourite Famous Clermont ridden by Will Biddick he made up ground after the third last and as the leader faltered approaching the last Alex drove his mount in front on the run-in. Owned and bred by Bob Barrett from Wolverhampton he added that the dam was due to produce another foal this time by Telescope any day. His wife Helen added that she had not expected to witness the gelding's victory as she was due to be in a golf match but the wet weather had put paid to this.
Will had previously notched up another career winner when catching long-time leader Aclassofgold ridden by Zac Baker in the Restricted race. Riding Charlotte Budd's Rien du Tout he winged the second last and drew away to win by five lengths at the winning post. Charlotte's initial comment was 'I can't believe it' but she then added that he had been going well at home so the victory was not a total surprise. Asking Will how his knee was after standing down at Badbury Rings last week the response was 'much better after that'
Happy Larry won the finale, the Open Maiden, for trainer Michael Kehoe and ridden by Sam Lee. Owned by Michael's mother-in-law Joy Tetley with Harry Dolan he is one of two point to point horses that Michael trains at his base near Leighton Buzzard. Naughty Gnome ridden by Matthew Fielding looked a dangerous threat at the second last but could not find any more on the run in with three lengths being the winning margin. Placed in two Irish Maidens the winner had been a promising third behind Raised with Praise at Larkhill in December but had rather lost his confidence after a fall at Cottenham.
Prior to the day's racing the annual King's Troop race was held and this year it was won by Sauvignon by a distance ridden by Gunner Bronwyn Cooper, 19 from Ipswich. Riding in her first King's Troop race her rivals fell by the wayside leaving the ten year old gelding to win very easily.